What can you do with a master's degree in psychology?

  • Many psychology graduates apply their skills in counseling roles across a variety of industries.
    Many psychology graduates apply their skills in counseling roles across a variety of industries.

    What can you do with a master's degree in psychology?

    With a master’s degree in hand, you’re ready to put the theory into practice. While many careers in psychology require a doctoral degree, the master’s level still provides plenty of career options for those ready to start applying their knowledge in the field. Plus, psychology degrees are among the most flexible, providing you with a refined set of skills you can employ across a variety of career paths.

    Here are some of the roles you can pursue with a master’s degree in psychology:

    Working in education
    If you have a passion for educational or child psychology, your master’s degree can qualify you for various roles in research and academic settings. School psychologists, for instance, help students deal with behavioral problems, academic difficulties, learning disabilities, emotional stressors and other issues.

    Graduates from a master’s psychology program can also pursue counseling at any grade level. School counselors work with children struggling with personal or academic difficulties and advise them in making important decisions. High school counselors often help students with college searches and application, while those working at the university or college level can fill roles such as academic advisor or career counselor. These professionals earn an average annual wage of $55,410, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job outlook is also promising, with school and career counselor roles expected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than the average for most occupations.

    Other potential careers in the education environment include:

    • Special Education Teacher
    • Community College Psychology Professor
    • Educational Psychologist
    • Academic Recruiter
    • Employment Counselor

    Working in health care
    If you’re interested in working with people who struggle with mental or emotional illness, you may want to consider applying for jobs in health and social services. Clinical psychologists are experts in these illnesses, helping diagnose and treat individuals. While some roles require a higher level of education or certification to achieve this title, there’s also plenty of opportunity in the field at the master’s level.

    In the clinical psychology world, health and behavioral counselors work with individuals to combat the day-to-day issues they experience as a result of their illness. Social work is another option, serving as a mental health professional qualified to help people with various issues, from psychological issues to personal hardships to substance abuse problems.

    Job titles that also fall under this umbrella include:

    • Health project coordinator
    • Rehabilitation specialist
    • Child protection specialist
    • Substance abuse counselor
    • Family services worker

    Working for the government
    Many graduates from master’s psychology programs pursue jobs with the local, state or federal government. You can search for these kinds of positions on your state’s Department of Labor website. You’re likely to come across job postings for correctional facilities, clinics, hospitals and social service offices.

    Probation officers and Correctional treatment specialists, for instance, help inmates prepare to rejoin society. Through this counseling, offenders walk away with a rehabilitation plan to follow once they leave prison. These professionals earn an average salary of $51,410, according to the BLS. In a similar support role, veterans counselors help members of the military adjust back to civilian life when they complete their service. These kinds of rehabilitation counseling roles pay nearly $35,000 a year on average, as reported by the BLS.

    Other government positions for master’s level candidates include:

    • Psychology program manager
    • Social service manager
    • Court consultant
    • Development specialist
    • Drug and alcohol specialist

    Working for nonprofit organizations
    You may also be able to combine your psychology skills and knowledge with a passion for a particular charity or nonprofit mission. Your degree serves as a valuable foundation to help these kinds of organizations.

    The strong communication and interpersonal skills developed during your psychology studies particularly lend themselves to the fundraising side of nonprofit work. You can apply your skills to effectively communicate the organization’s mission, as well as pick up on the most effective ways to motivate people to get involved.

    With that in mind, your degree may qualify you for nonprofit roles, such as:

    • Grant writer
    • Director of fundraising
    • Director of volunteer services
    • Education leader
    • Community service specialist

    Working in business and communication
    Understanding the psychology behind how people think, act and communicate is a highly valued skill for employers in advertising, public relations, sales and other consumer-facing businesses. As such, your master’s degree can make you a standout candidate for roles beyond the traditional psychology path.

    With strong research and interpersonal skills, you may be successful in a market research or creative advertising position. You may also do well in the human resources department, applying psychological concepts to communicating effectively with current and potential employees. Of course, a bachelor’s degree or minor related to these business and communication fields can also guide your career in this direction.

    As such, you may consider applying for a variety of business-related roles, including:

    • Marketing associate
    • Market research analyst
    • Sales representative
    • Human resources manager
    • Media buyer

    Your master’s degree can jumpstart your career in your chosen area of psychology. If you find yourself loving your position and feeling a desire to learn more, consider going back to school for your doctorate degree. From there, you can officially hold the title of psychologist – and pursue the roles reserved for those higher-level graduates.

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